Friday, February 27, 2015

Sharing Heartcrafted Co. & a GIVEAWAY!!


Lately, I've gotten to review and share so many fun shops, people and products.  I think there is something so special about encouraging people who are trying to earn an income from the work of their hands, by sharing them, and their talents.  Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you to my new Insta-friend Amanda.  I'm not sure how I found her on Instagram, but I did, and immediately loved her!  She has gorgeous handwriting and a sweet, sweet heart. (You know how important that part is to me by now.)

Anyway, her shop is called Heartcrafted Co., and she sells gorgeous wood signs for all kinds of occasions.  They also make rubber stamps... I know, right? {Tell me you get this total love affair I've got with rubber stamps?  Yes? I knew I liked you.}

So, after I Insta-drooled all over Amanda's feed she asked if I'd like one and if I'd also like to give one to one of you.  I think my fingers were replying with a screaming YES before my brain even had a chance to think of the answer.  SO EXCITED!!
The packaging and details were so adorable I had to photograph them and share.  I mean... kraft, chalk, burlap-ish- jute ribbon... seriously, I was exclaiming {and alarming} my children the entire time I was unwrapping my goodies.
My stamp.  I want to mail everyone I know a letter at this point because of this stamp.  I am convinced of this fact- having never had a home address stamp before, it might be one of the most fun parts of the entire mail process.  {And er... sorry for the obnoxious white banner over my exact location.  Not that it much matters at this point but I'm sure you get it.}

I love how fun this makes my mail now.

I wanted to share the other sweet wood signage they sell over at Heartcrafted Co. so you could see the level of adorable-ness I'm talking about here!  I was chatting with Amanda over emails as I prepared to get this post scheduled and she said, "My husband and I have always been makers, but we officially started Heartcrafted Co. a year ago after I took a calligraphy course and fell in love. We create hand lettered wood signs and rubber stamps - He works with the wood and I do the lettering. It has been such an adventure building a business out of hobbies that we both really love and can do together, and we feel so lucky to be able to share our heart-crafts with the world!"

Don't you just adore that?  So, I'm here to give this stamp away to one of you today! (Er, in a few days anyway.)  You know you want one.  Amanda is going to be drawing a random winner from  your comments, so in order to win, please take a look at her shop and then leave her some feedback in comments.  (Consider letting her know which items are your favorite- I'm sure she would love to hear what you guys are partial to!)  If you want to get a few extra entries, feel free to tweet, Instagram, Pin or facebook this giveaway and leave a separate comment for each one letting Amanda know that you did that please and I'll be back in a few days to let you know who Amanda has chosen!  Fingers crossed that it's YOU! 

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Re-adjusting plans

 I'm sitting in a pool of sunshine, contemplating how on earth my windows got so filthy.

Well, actually, what I'm really thinking about (before my dirty windows distracted me) is how we often see a change in plans as the most frustrating thing ever... when in reality, it's a gift.

Yesterday Ava woke up and I could just tell.  The head cold that had been slowly making it's way from person to person in our household had hit her and she wasn't going anywhere in a hurry.  I called the school, sent her back to bed and readjusted my plans.  All of my plans. I wasn't going to get to squeeze in that run, or that post office errand to drop orders in the mailbox, or several of the other items I had planned on.  I was however, going to get to exchange those plans for some cuddles, some forehead stroking, some medicine dosing, some gingerale serving, and some mama tenderness giving.

Not to mention that a few things I'd continued to put off because I'm so busy were actually going to get done while baby girl rested.  Like that pan of brownies I've been promising to bake them for a week.  And some bathroom floor scrubbing which was seriously so overdue it's not even funny.

And it got me thinking.  How often do we cling to our own plans in life- what's convenient, or fun, or make us look good or feel good... when all God wants, is for us to let go of our plan and trust His instead? His plans are always for our eventual good. Wish I could make it so that I never forgot that truth. 
And... while Ava was resting, I finished up this awful project I'd been dragging my feet on, because honestly if you're looking for a way to drive yourself stark-raving-mad... brush paint onto a basket weave surface.  I really wished I'd had a little sprayer about five minutes in.

{I primed them, painted them in Sherwin Williams Resilience paint in the color "Sea Salt" and then recovered the cushions in a new print, along with swapping out the back pillows for some larger ones in a pretty coordinating fabric I found at JoAnns.}

The day ended up being a win-win for everyone, and those brownies were a hit with my sick people. Everyone got loved on, including my second hand chairs!
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Friday, February 20, 2015

TINbox™


Today I get to share about something a dear friend of mine, named Laura, recently started up!  I think you're going to love this you guys. It's called TINbox™ and it's a monthly subscription box filled with cute as can be decor items for your home. (It's kind of like stitchfix... only for your house- or like a really awesome magazine subscription.) Laura owns a little boutique so she is truly the perfect person to have come up with this.  You subscribe to the service, shipping is ALWAYS FREE, and you get to choose between a Prestige box (filled with 3-5 items which retails at approx $85) or the Elite box (filled with 2-4 items which retails at approx $60.) I was given an example of what a Prestige box might contain and received five items. Hop over to Sew a Fine Seam to see what an example of a Elite box might look like. 

Everything is bound to be cute and will help to create a warm and welcoming home.  I love that she has set this up with two options- that way you can choose according to your budget. 

Laura says, "You might receive a picture frame, you might receive a candle, you might receive handmade soap, you might receive a cute sign, you might receive a handmade print done by an artist, you might receive a set of herb markers, you might receive a decorative kitchen item, but whatever you receive in your TINbox™ will brighten your day and your home!  Each month will be different items so you'll never know what you're going to receive and that's the best part!" 

(I wholeheartedly agree with her!) 

What I love most about Laura, is that she not only seeks to make her home a place that glorifies Jesus, but she seeks to make it a haven for her friends and family and she has created TINbox™ from that sweet heart.
She sent me a sample box of things you might find one month... I can't tell you how adorable these things were, and how fun it was to incorporate them into my existing home decor. I wanted to show you where I put a few of these fun items... (though I am aware that I have shown way too much of this room from this angle lately and I'm sorry.) Right away, I fell hard for the soy candle. It's already moved from room to room with me a few times.  I was working in my office and I actually carried it lit, from the kitchen, to my desk.  I'm showing it here next to my guest bed. 

 I love the little cute soap too.  I have a thing for bar soaps.  Meaning that I actually prefer them over liquid.  Adrain agrees and we have a bar of yummy smelling soap in our master bathroom.  I like the old fashioned feeling about bar soaps... and I actually can't believe I'm talking so much about soap.

Don't read too far into that.  I think it probably speaks volumes about my life right now. Har!
 I tucked a few long matches into a glass votive.

 I actually had the candle beside my sink all week so here's a few photos with it there.  (And please feel free to drool over the darling vintage bike dishtowel that I pulled out of my TINbox™ that is hanging on my stove handle.   I won't lie- I threatened small people within an inch of their lives if they wipe a dirty face or finger on it.)


 And the frame... I think that was actually my favorite thing.  I had a perfect little photo of Adrain and I, and immediately added it to my bookcase collection.  It fit right in and I love cute, and stylish little frames like this one!
 I think it would be so much fun to give a TINbox™ as a wedding shower gift, or as a housewarming gift or a Mother's day gift... or even just to yourself if your house needs a bit of a pick -me-up.  I love Miss Laura- we were discussing her future plans for TINbox™ the other day, and she has big plans... it's only going to get better and better!

I love the opportunity to share precious ladies like her with you.  She has the sweetest heart for Jesus and for making our homes lovely spaces.  I think you'll love her and her new business venture to pieces!
https://tinboxclub.com/


https://tinboxclub.com/
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I hear them talking

 
They roll their eyes and mutter "sheesh" under their breath as they stomp away.  They slam doors and cross their arms and refuse to listen.  They say things that hurt and claim I'm a nasty old woman sometimes.  They yell and say "No!" just like a toddler and hurl angry words through hormonal tears and outbursts that shock.

Sometimes I rise to the bait and other times I have to cover a smile.  Occasionally, I get it right and stay calm, using soothing, teaching words, firm consequences and grace.  More often than not, I blow it so utterly and completely that I shake my head late into the night and wonder who I am anymore.  I believe that I'm making more mistakes than I can fix.  I cry or feel like an awful failure, convinced that everything I've ever taught them from the time I could fold their tiny hands together in thankful prayers until now, has been for nothing.

 And then, as I lug a heavy laundry basket around a corner, feeling overwhelmed as most mamas do on occasion, and I'm just about to raise my voice and screech that I'm tired of "having to turn every light off in every room for crying out loud," I hear them talking.

They are in his bedroom, both holding a little pet bird on their fingers, talking casually, just the two of them.  She asks how he is doing with memorizing the Lord's prayer and he says "Good, how about you?" I stand quietly, straining to hear more, and she says, "I have an idea! Let's tell them to each other."  He agrees and they proceed to recite the Lord's prayer to each other over the course of the next few minutes.  They encourage one another in a few word stumbles and praise each other as they try again to get it word-perfect... and I weep. 

I weep, because I never told them to do this.  They heard a few sermons at church, about the Lord's prayer and how we should talk to God and somehow between themselves, they came up with the idea of memorizing it.  In spite of me.  In spite of my mama-failings.  In spite of all the times I think they don't listen and I'll never get through, and I realize this truth- He is more than enough and He is all we need and He is capable of pursuing the child who proclaims that God doesn't hear his prayers and maybe doesn't even exist and He WILL pursue because He loves them more than I ever could, and in a perfect way that rolls over the top of my failings and covers them heavily, like thick white paint over ugly furniture.

And it makes me think, as I enter into the season of Lent, and the laying down of myself to follow Christ authentically.  Becoming less so that He can become more, and struggling to make the meaningful happen in the midst of the urgent and continually falling quite short.  As I see how God cares for the hearts of my children, how precious and reassured I feel, that He cares equally for the heart of me.  And also, for the heart of YOU as well, dear one.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
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Monday, February 16, 2015

Five things.

 5) I'm about to begin the She Reads Truth Lent study.  I've already hung the artwork and put my memory verses up on the fridge and gathered a few friends to meet up and discuss what we're learning. (Any locals who want to join please contact me! We don't meet until next week so there's still time to join us and we would be thrilled to meet and include you! We only meet 3 times so it's an easy commitment.)




4) I found a bundle of pussy willows (hate that name) and have been enjoying many flashbacks to my childhood spent gathering these soft treasures. I've been doing some general nest fluffing for the beat of my heart that says spring is approaching and with camera in hand, snapped some shots of the day.  Nothing special- just our home life in photos.  I've sprinkled them into this post. I especially loved some sweetness in my daughter's room.  Her flute laying over her desk seat and her orchid in bloom, and horse collection. I'll miss these things someday...


3) I'm preparing for a very special house guest in about two weeks time.  I can't keep it in any longer.  I'm so busy right now that I haven't had much time to think about it, let alone make any fun plans, though I have sewn a scrap of black, dotted fabric for a new pillow cover and moved some of my art around, including this over sized print from my shop which is perfection over the guest bed.  As for the planning... I need to get on that!  What's your favorite thing to do when you've got a house guest from out of town?


2) I officially deleted my facebook account.  At first I only deactivated it but I was still getting notifications from people every now and then- it was weird.  I just wanted to shake it off and be done.  I can't say I miss it in the slightest... though I'm sad for those of you who read my blog via my LMM facebook page which is no longer there. There was a camel's back and a straw and it was time to GO, yo! (grin)

1) Lent.  Okay let's talk about this.  Adrain asked me the other day, what I was planning to give up.  After a couple of weeks mulling it over, it's going to be more about what I'm doing rather than what I'm specifically giving up.  I'm focused on a couple different things, one being that I want to get up earlier each morning so I don't feel so behind, and I want to put my Lent study time first.  I'm not a morning person and I never have been.  I've spent a good majority of my life feeling like I must be extraordinarily lazy because of this.  You don't read a lot of encouraging bible verses about those late sleepers getting it all done and being prized above rubies and such.  So enter constant feelings of failure.  My body and brain just don't seem to function well before 7 am.  There I said it.  On weekends it's more like 8 and I'm not kidding. So I decided to give up that part of self that wants to stay in bed and get that extra hour of sleep... I plan to put my new espresso machine to good use and pop that baby on, snuggle in next to my bookcase, with the soft lights beaming down on me, bask in the presence of God before my hoodlums begin to stir and see what happens during the season of Lent.  This roller coastered me into praying half the night last night, over a few other things that I'm feeling particularly weak in right now, and I went over them like pearls on a string, one at a time, letting them slip through my fingers as I laid them out for Him to see.  I professed that in my own strength I can not accomplish any of these things and I asked God to be very present in my weakness and help me during this season while I draw near to Him. 

Which brings me to this.  I've been so aware of my own weakness lately because I've been watching my big strong man struggling in the area of physical weakness. He had an old football injury in his shoulders which has been perpetuated due to the physical side of his day job.  He has been in so much pain as of the last few weeks and I've never seen him anything less than completely strong and tough. He can pretty much lift anything and still shows off his bench pressing skills to me on occasion much to the chagrin of our children who are very much not impressed by daddy's showing off for mommy. Ha! It's been heartbreaking to watch him suffer lately, and he is facing surgery now that physical therapy is over etc.  I've depended on his strength for twenty years and I've been very emotional about his injury which is weird, I know.  Watching him ice his shoulders every night and not be able to lift heavy things.... well it's hard on a girl.  But it prompted some deep thoughts this morning about my selfishness (also one of the areas of weakness I prayed over last night.) Here I have been, feeling bad and of course sorry for his pain, but if I'm raw and completely honest with myself  (and you dear friend) I've been more sorry about how it affects me and how it changes things.  Are you kidding me Sasha?!  It took until this very morning for God to gently convict my stupid, selfish heart that I haven't even thought about how it must feel for a man who was completely capable and among the stronger of men out there to suddenly be unable to do what needs doing.  It humbled me that it must be hard for HIM to be so hampered in his job and how frustrating it must be for him to feel weak after a lifetime of never feeling that way.  I immediately reached out to him and told him the truth- that I am so appreciative of him and proud of him and that I still look to him for the kind of strength that matters- his heart and character.  He responded that he really appreciated my encouragement and I'll be honest... I cried.  I cried that it took me 3 whole weeks to become sensitive to his needs (and of course he almost never complains.)

Anyway.  The point is that I'm working on bettering myself in the ways that matter and I've got my areas of focus for the season of Lent.  It will be lifelong, make no mistake, but the general fasting from self is my aim. 

How are you dear ones? 
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Friday, February 6, 2015

Preparing our families and homes for Lent

Spring, Easter and the weeks leading up to Easter are my very favorite by far. It's lovely to tuck sunny daffodils into wide mouth glass jars and open the windows in the afternoon to let in a bit of  spring air.  We always host a big Seder dinner on Good Friday with friends and family so I find myself planning a simple and lovely table and making lists of all the details.  Those things are nice and I love nothing more than making my home a welcoming place, but one thing I love even more than all of that... are the conversations I get to have with my children over these holiday traditions we participate in.

In years past, we have made resurrection cookies (always a huge hit) and enjoyed going over the true meaning of Easter with our little pack of hoodlums.  Last year my kids had a lot of curiosity about Lent.  They went to school with friends who proclaimed they were giving up this or that and they wanted to know what it was all about.  We did our best to explain things but this year I found a treasure and I can NOT wait to share it with you (and my kids!) 


Before I share, I was curious if any of you remember the lovely Royal name crown ornaments on my Christmas tree... or the conversation ribbons I tied our Thanksgiving napkins with?  Those items came from the Ever Thine Home site.  I'm a big fan.  I used to listen to the radio program, Family Life Today every single day when my kids were little. Dennis Rainey, the sound parenting advice, the daily guests, the book recommendations and all of the resources became one of my mama lifelines, so when I saw that Barbara Rainey had created the Ever Thine Home collection which contained a ton of gorgeous ways to incorporate faith into one's home, I was ecstatic.  (I flipped out just a little bit more when they asked me if I would like to partner up with them as an affiliate and share some of these things with you guys.  That was an easy YES!)

So.  Let me tell you about the Messiah Mystery.  We have already fully checked it out and you're going to love doing this with kids or grand kids!  It all comes in a box and you'll get- a gorgeous fabric covered guidebook, a 40 day paper chain kit (to count down the 40 days of Lent) that comes apart each day piece by piece to create a work of art with a clue, and a few notebooks and a magnifying glass.  (Side note, if you want your children to get excited no matter what age they are, make them use a magnifying glass to read a secret message.) (Just saying.)

My kids loved making the paper chain.  Total hit, even at their ages.  The guidebook has 6 weekly lessons you can read through with your kids to uncover the 2000 year old mystery!  What I love is that it's already gotten them intrigued.  My children love anything that seems like it's going to be a daily countdown.  I also love that there are sweet words of encouragement to parents and even single parents right in the front pages of the guidebook.  Like a hug and a "you can do this!" pat on your back.  I also love that they are only once a week lessons because y'all... let me tell you, during the springtime I just about lose my ever loving mind with all the family birthdays we have, spring break + Easter holidays.  There's just never enough time... so this is perfect because I can do this.

A daily countdown... and a once a week meaningful yet fun reading with my kids?  Sign me UP!


The nice thing, is that if you order now you'll have it in time to start with Lent.  If you're interested, the sweet folks at Ever Thine Home have also offered you guys a 15% off coupon!  You can place your order here or click on the button below to order, and when you check out, use the code "LEMONADE" for your discount.
http://familylife.go2cloud.org/aff_c?offer_id=2&aff_id=1014&url_id=32

Be sure to check out all the other goodies Ever Thine Home has for your  home while you're there! 
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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Good gracious. Five things


(First, let me apologize for the grainy, somewhat low quality pics in this post.  I have been waiting a week to share a few updates and the weather has not been cooperating... but I missed you all so much & I wanted to get this post up I let it slide this once.  And if the sun ever reappears I'll reshoot and add these to the house tour page that I keep meaning to update... ) 

1) I am in LOVE with Downton Abbey this season, along with the bonus of Grantchester immediately following.  I love a good mystery and set in the 50's with all the gorgeous outfits... it's positively swoony. Plus, it gives me something to excitedly text my mama about. Are y'all watching any of it?

2) I got this amazing wooden "B" from Urban Farmgirl after the holidays, and it slays me with it's cuteness. It's made from a 140 year old floor of a knitting warehouse where they used to knit socks!  It's hanging on our bookshelf wall, which I'll share in a moment.

3) I am officially grown up.  I now own my first EVER coffee machine.  Well, it's an espresso machine actually. (Because if you're going to do a thing, do it right.)  I can't believe I am a coffee drinker after 39 years of not being one.  It's just crazy. Now, I just need a friend to come drink coffee with me.  (Any local takers?)

4) I painted the kiddos profiles on itty bitty plates a couple weeks ago when Adrain was out of town.  Joe and Ava wanted to do something fun with me so we hit a local pottery painting shop and these are what I made.  (I snapped a photo of their profiles before we left the house, printed it and cut it out and brought it with me.  Then I pencil-traced it's outline and painted it onto a plate.  It was a blast and so easy.)
  5) Firstly, have you ever noticed that I don't share pictures of this wall-side of our home very often?  That's because  the wall was un-proportionately decorated and oddly blank on one side because of our television... and you couldn't even see the television from the chair (not that I minded that since I'm not a big television girl but it was weird for guests.)  I didn't hate it, just to be clear- in fact the minimalist inside me kind of liked it most of the time.  However, the back story is this- For about 2 years, we have been planning and dreaming about having a bookshelf/TV center on this wall.

I learned a ton about grace from my man over this wall transformation last month.   At one point about two years ago, I measured the wall everything was going against once we found a unit we liked, and came up with a number that I never felt the need to double check or verify.  I tucked that wall measurement in my handbag and went on my merry way... (You can just see it coming like a runaway train, can't you?)

A year ago, I fell head over heels for the Liatorp unit (not this one pictured) at Ikea, and once I had done the math and calculated the cost and measurements, I ran it past my man.  He approved it, pending budget allowance and I waited... and waited... and waited until I got the go-ahead a few weeks ago!  Adrain went on a business trip to Florida and the next day after his return, we drove approx 3 hours to Ikea.  (I know.  It almost hurts, doesn't it?) Adrain was a total trooper and in spite of exhaustion and jet lag, loaded up the shopping cart.  We had some drama involving a missing bridge piece that I won't go into here, but we finally arrived home with our boxes and Swedish pictorial instructions. (snicker)

Hours later, (since Adrain had done something to his wrist a week previously, and was instructing our son in assembling this thing) (no kidding) we stood up bookshelf number one.  It was huge.  I took one look at it and my knees went weak but not in that "oh my gosh that cute boy just kissed me" way.  I wanted to vomit.  It was all going to be too huge.  I dug out my measurements and realized that I had miscalculated it by a massive four feet, which would have completely covered the entrance to our bedroom.  Um.  That was not my finest moment.  The next day was Friday and kids were out of school, so we all got up bright and early and headed back to Ikea with an assembled bookshelf and many boxes.  We returned it all and found something for about 2/3 the cost that fit our space (with a slight 2 inch overhang that Adrain said he didn't care about and at that point I didn't care to even voice an opinion because I was still feeling like such a heel and felt like I pretty much deserved nothing.) 

The best part- we actually liked it better.  After driving 12 hours in 2 days, and my boy assembling many pieces at the direction of my man, it was finally finished.  (I almost promised never to make them go to Ikea with me ever again.  Almost.)
 



 The point. (And yes, I have one.)  I beat myself up worse than anyone could have over this stupid mistake, even losing a night's sleep because I felt like the worst failure on the planet.  My man never said one nasty thing to me.  He bent over backward to show me love and grace and sweetness and never once complained about being tired or frustrated (well maybe one comment about the Swedish pictorials but the man is only human after all) and what hit me through all of this, is what I deserved, wasn't at all what he gave me.  He was kind and sweet and understanding and I had blown it big time.  It was a terrific example of how gracious Jesus is to me in my constant failures, and I will never forget it.

Anyway.  I wanted to show you the end result because it's pretty and since I do a ton of this kind of decor tweaking in my job, it was very gratifying to get a chance to play with my own goodies, and stage my own shelves. I have a definite thing for color arranging books and for seeing plenty of white space.  If I don't have clean gaps for my eyes to rest on, I start to feel frantic and like my whole house is cluttered.  That said, it's the happiest wall- these little bursts of cheery objects and color!  Bookshelves are meant for books, not just dust-able objects, and even though not every book is pretty... it's nice to have them all out where they belong.

Like all projects, things got shuffled around and found new homes.  The gorgeous photos of my kids in those vintage frames I love ended up getting moved into the dining area.  It's not the best place for them but I couldn't bear to part with them and until I come up with a better place to hang them, they'll rest here.  I do love seeing those faces when I sit at the table for breakfast.  I also raised our dining lights up about 2 feet- something I'd been wanting to do for months and I finally dragged the ladder in and did it.  I have no idea why I waited so long to do that. 

It's nice when things eventually come together- especially when you're convinced you've messed them up beyond fixing and the solution seems a long way away.  Life in general can sure feel that way sometimes.  If that's you right now, please remember this truth- no matter how we blow it in this life, (and of course we are going to blow it big time way more times than we can count) God's forgiveness is there for the asking.  It doesn't matter what it is we've done.  I can't tell you how much I praise Him for that! 

(Ikea Hemnes collection.)

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